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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

At their mercy

I really hope my students aren't too upset about that 'no curve' thing. Tomorrow I have to administer my student evaluations. My feeling from conversations with others and, of course, the internets is that these are very important to department heads and administration for tenure decisions, but how important are they now? They don't mean anything in terms of TA assignments or funding in my department so I didn't bother much with my bad reviews last year (I agreed that I didn't seem 'knowledgeable about the subject'- the prof I was assisting routinely gave the TAs homework keys with wrong answers. There was no way ANYONE could have properly explained them!). But this year is different. I know that just having taught my own lecture course is supposed to look super fantastic on my CV but what if the ol' students skewer me on evaluations? Will they ever be asked about? Will it seem weird if reference letter writers don't reference my evaluations? Can you tell I watched too many Sex and the City reruns over the weekend by my string of questions? (For the record it was only like, 4 reruns) As far as I remember, I haven't seen evaluation statistics on any CVs of candidates or faculty members. Anybody else?

Note: Every word meter I use crashes. Bah! I am up to 1305 words on ZF Manuscript. 37% baby!

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Blogger frog-o-phobic said...

Evaluation forms are where students vent their frustrations, and students (especially in large lecture courses) are always frustrated. Period. This is what I have learned in 3 years as a TA and 3 (going on 4) years as a full-time high school teacher. Do you have to give a standard form, or can you make up your own? I think that the questions you ask greatly influences the responses you get.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm pretty sure that evals don't matter right now, unless your advisor reads them and decides that they're really important. But if anyone I know (including me) saw evaluations complaining that the teacher graded too harshly when the mean grade was a B-, they would simply chalk it up to premeds worrying about their grades without the work to back it up.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Field Notes said...

I like you fretted over my first evals. Your first ones won't matter much at all in your job search, unless these are the only ones you'll have. It also depend on what type of school you want to end up working at. At an R1 they aren't going to matter a whole lot; at a SLAC they want to see a progression of strong evals. Even if you get skewered (which you won't!) and these are the only evals you have, you can still demonstrate you've thought about your pedagogy in your letter and teaching statement.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

I have one friend who had to share her eval. scores when she went for a PTI job at Texas A&M. I don't know any other reason (other than for your dept.) that they are important. In terms of my own teaching, the mid-semester evaluation that I administer does so much more to improve my teaching; I have a chance to adapt what I'm doing if something is not working for my kids or is working really well.

2:45 PM  
Blogger DancingFish said...

Frog-o-phobic: It was a standard form. There is space for comments but I did not ask specific questions (which I will in the future). I did suggest a few topics for comments so hopefully this will get some decent feedback!

Elizabeth: Oh yes, the premeds. They crack me up acting like a B- is the worst thing that has ever happened. Ever!

Field Notes: Great point. I am not to the point yet of teaching statements and such but on the plus side, good comments on evaluations at this stage could be a great addition to those.

Beverly: I wish I had done a mid-semester evaluation and I will in the future. Adjust along the way!

9:58 PM  

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